Management of colonic diverticulitis

Anne F Peery
BMJ: British Medical Journal 2021 March 24, 372: n72
Left sided colonic diverticulitis is a common and costly gastrointestinal disease in Western countries, characterized by acute onset of often severe abdominal pain. Imaging is necessary to make an initial diagnosis and determine disease severity. Colonoscopy should be done six to eight weeks after diagnosis to rule out a missed colon malignancy. Antibiotic treatment is used selectively in immunocompetent patients with mild acute uncomplicated diverticulitis. The clinical course of diverticulitis commonly includes unpredictable recurrences and chronic gastrointestinal symptoms, which are a detriment to quality of life. A better understanding of prognosis has prompted a shift toward non-operative approaches. The decision to undergo prophylactic colon resection should be individualized to consider the severity of diverticulitis, the patient's health and immune status, and the patient's preferences and values, as well as benefits and risks. Because only a section of colon is removed, recurrent diverticulitis remains a risk. Acute diverticulitis with an abscess is treated with antibiotics that cover Gram negative and anaerobic bacteria, with or without percutaneous drainage. Acute diverticulitis with purulent or feculent contamination of the peritoneal cavity is managed with surgery; primary resection and anastomosis is the procedure of choice in stable patients.

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